The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is one of the most cohesive and long lasting film series world history. It has spanned over almost twenty movies in the last ten years, and it tells the stories of many of the titular characters of Marvel Comics. Captain America is one of the oldest characters, in age, of the universe, having fought in World War Two against Nazi Germany and Hydra. The most recent Captain American film, Civil War, is the MCU’s retelling of the 2006-2007 Civil War comic story arc that pits Steve Rodger’s Captain American against Tony Stark’s Iron Man over the Sokovia Accords and Rodger’s friend Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. This article is going will analyze on the Sokovia Accords as a possible public policy in the MCU. First, the Sokovia Accords will be explained. Next, both sides of the issue will be contrasted. Lastly, the author’s perspective on the public policy will be explained.
The Sokovia Accords
Historical Context: At the start of “Captain America: Civil War,” the Avengers (Specifically the Scarlet Witch, Falcon, and Black Widow. are in Lagos, Nigeria to stop a group of mercenaries from stealing a biological weapon from the Institute for Infectious Diseases. During the operation, one member of the mercanary team, “Crossbones” Brock Rumlow, activates a suicide bomb in an attempt to kill Captain America. Using her telekinetic powers, Scarlet Witch is able to contain the the explosion and direct it up and away from innocent bystanders, but the damage is deflected into a building killing twenty-six people, including eleven relief workers. This event, along with other tragic and catostrophic events attached to the Avengers team (Kree Invasion of New York City by Loki, Hulk’s ramapage in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the destruction of a city Sokovia due to Ultron) lead the world to enact the Sokovia Accords. This treaty, approved by one hundred seventy nations is “designed to regulate the activities of enhanced individuals” (“Sokivia Accords,” 2017, n.p.), like Captain America, Iron Man, and other members of the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. The accords define an “enhanced individual” as an individual with superhuman capabilities, including utilizing “highly advanced technology to grant themselves superhuman capabilities” (“Sokivia Accords,” 2017, n.p.).
Sokovia Regulations: The currently known regulations established by the Sokovia Accords include:
- The Avengers will no longer be a private organization. They will operate under UN supervision.
- Enhanced individuals, who agree to sign, MUST…
- register with the United Nations.
- provide biometric data, such as fingerprints and DNA samples.
- submit to a power analysis that…
- categorizes their threat level
- determines potential health risks
- Enhanced individuals who do not sign are not be allowed to participate in any…
- national or international conflict
- participate in missions undertaken by the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., or any other intelligence organization.
- Enhanced individuals, including members of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents,
- no longer have the authorization to cross international boundaries at any time they wish.
- given clearance by either a nation’s government or the United Nations subcommittee before taking any action in that country, either on their own or as a part of an organization.
- If an enhanced individual takes unauthorized action or obstructs the actions of those acting in accordance with the Accords, they will be arrested.
- Enhanced individuals who break the law, violate the Accords or are otherwise deemed to be a threat to the general public may be detained indefinitely without trial.
- All enhanced individuals with innate powers who agree to sign the Accords must wear tracking bracelets at all times.
- The creation of any and all artificial intelligence is strictly prohibited.
The following videos from the movie show how the people involved with the Avengers debated the accords with each other. The first scene show Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross explaining to the Avengers the reason and purposes behind the accords. This occurs directly after the events described in the Historical Context section above.
This next scene shows the Avengers debating among themselves the pros and the cons of the accords. You can see pretty clearly which characters fall on either side of the debate.
This last video clip, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) trying to convince Steve Rodgers (aka Captain America) to sign the accords because of the actions he took to protect his friend Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier) from Wakanda’s King T’Chala (aka Black Panther). Bucky was suspected of bombing the UN meeting where the accords were being debated and signed. T’Chala’s father was killed in the bombing.
Support for the Sokovia Accords: The biggest argument made by the Avengers centers around the principle that the Avengers and other “enhanced individuals” need to be regulated in some realistic way. Tony Stark (Iron Man) makes this point by showing the effects the Avengers have had on regular people around the world. The Avengers and others have powers and abilities that can be used for both good and for bad. That kind of power needs be regulated and focused to protect regular people. People are not perfect and they make mistakes so they need to be checked. These accords serve as a check and balance on groups like the Avengers, and individuals like Captain America.
This is similar to the reason why Batman, in the DC Universe, has files in his computer system on how to take down all the members of the Justice League (DC’s version of the Avengers). He collated these files after Hal Jordan went rogue after the destruction of his home, Coast City, and became Paralax and threatened all of life on earth. Batman saw this as check on their power. When asked why there was no file on how to take him down, if he went rogue, he said that the Justice League was his check. Here is a video from an animated version of that debate.
Registration of superheroes is definately a good idea, since they have powers that can easily be used against other for evil. This is similar to how the United States required background checks on individuals who buy firearms. Knowing exactly who these people are, their powers, and potential danger to others is a very basic regulation of enhanced individuals.
The prohibition on participation in conflicts makes sense from a practical stand point. Since you are not agreeing to these accords you cannot participate or use your powers. Basically, if you do not want to regulate your powers, you cannot use them.
The arrest clause also is not unreasonable, since ubstruction of most law enforcement activities is enough cause for arrest.
The prohibition on the creation of artificial intelligences is strictly a hindsight response to the events of the “Age of Ultron.” But science-fiction movies and books show the human race repeatedly that artifical intelligences never works out well for humans.
Opposition for the Sokovia Accords: The big argument made by Captain America is that the powers that the Avengers have is safest in their own hands, not in the hands of a body of politicians at the UN. The UN has a nasty track record for being wrong. There are numerous countries on the UN Human Rights Commission who consistently violate the rights of citizens in their nations and have have used the body to protect themselves (Gearan, 2017, n.p.). This is just one problematic issue of the Sokovia Accords.
The other major problem with the accords is that the UN can imprison individuals indefinately without trial. That is a clear violation of rights in many countries as well as according the Universal Declaration of Rights which was created by the United Nations in the 1940s. The provision denies a person due process before their life and liberty are taken from them. In fact by this time in the movie one of their members, the Scarlet Witch, had been detained according to the Sokovia Accords for her actions in Lagos, Nigeria.
One major problem constitutionally in this treaty is that it vioaltes the Constition in several ways. First, the lacks the protection of due process, trial by jury, and an ex post facto enforcement of the law. Secondly, even if the UN voted on these accords, and the U.S. voted for them too in general session, they would not be the law of the land in the U.S. until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate by a two-thirds vote of all members. In reality then all the U.S. citizens the accords are not even enforcible in the United States at the end of the movie, due to needing and not hearing about U.S. Senate approval
If I Were President: Author’s Perspective
The Sokovia Accords in and of themselves are not a bad idea in principle. The “enhanced individuals” of the world need to have some oversight. The UN is not the best option but with a few safeguards it would be a good idea.
When there is a threat of danger that only the Avengers can handle, they need the latitude to act unilaterally to ensure the safety of all people of the world. Those decisions are best left to the members of the Avengers. The team cannot force any of their members to participate in any paramiliatary action they take if they disagree withit for any reason or purpose.
The UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council would have post-operation oversight of the team. If either felt that the team was out of line in their operation then they would be condemned and face charges in the country that the operation took place. This would require a supermajority of members of either assembly to condemn and indict the members of the Avengers.
The UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly could also command the Avengers into any opreational area that they felt needed their special skills. Though, the Avengers would have veto authority on any operation ordered by the UN. And as before any members that did not want to participate for whatever reason could not be compelled to particpate in such an action.
Lastly, any nation could call on the Avengers for assistance in their country. The Avengers could again veto such an operation and no member could be compelled to participate in the operation.
The Sokovia Accords, as a public policy, is not necessarily a bad idea in world with super heroes, mutants, and “enhanced individuals” like in universes created in comic books. These policies are meant to protect the individuals and nations from the danger than can come from these peoples and groups. Both sides have arguments that are valid and it is sad that it came to blows in the movie, Captain America: Civil War. The most interesting take away from this public policy debate comes from that second posted scene. While all the others are talking and arguing, what is Captain America doing? He is reading the document. He is educating himself on the rules and regulations set up by this treaty.
To often now adays laws are passed without anyone realizing what is in them. Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is often quoted as saying that the Congress had pass the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to know what is in it. That makes no sense when you are going to be responsible for following the law, you need to be able to read and understand it simply, and laws passed today are neither. At the start of our country most people could read, and they maybe only had three books in their houses: a Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the state. They needed them so they could teach them to their children and know what laws they would be held accountable for.
Today, laws cannot be read or understood by normal people. The laws are so volumious that no one person can own a copy of them in their own houses. We don’t know the laws that we have in our country, our states’, or our local cities and counties until we are told we are breaking them. We need to demand that our legislators write easy to read and understand laws so that people can own them, teach them to their children, and know when they are breaking them. Otherwise we will all become law breakers.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Thanks for reading! Class Dismissed!
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Justice League: Doom. Dir. Lauren Montgomery. By Dwayne McDuffie. Perf. Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly,. Warner Home Video, 2012. DVD (Video clip posted in the article but embedded by YouTube).
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